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Former ICTY spokesperson defers plea on contempt charges

[JURIST] Former spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] Florence Hartmann [book publicity interview] declined Monday to enter a plea on two counts of contempt she faces for allegedly releasing restricted information regarding court rulings in the case of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive]. Hartmann was the former official spokesperson for chief ICTY prosecutor Carla del Ponte [BBC profile]. At the hearing, Hartmann lawyer William Bourdon said Hartmann was invoking her right to defer her plea for 30 days while she awaits the decision of the tribunal on whether she will be required to pay her own legal costs. In public statements, Hartmann has maintained that she operated within her rights and that the accusations against her threaten freedom of speech and transparency in the affairs of international organizations such as the ICTY. Reuters has more. Le Monde has additional coverage, in French.

In August, the ICTY issued an Order in Lieu of an Indictment [text, PDF; JURIST report], charging that Hartmann knowingly revealed confidential decisions in the Milosevic case in her memoirs [Amazon book profile], published in September of 2007, and in subsequent public statements. Hartmann has continued to draw media attention, repeating allegations [JURIST report] that the US, France, and Russia obstructed the capture of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [BBC profile, JURIST news archive], and that the ICTY helped hide information about the Srebrenica massacre [BBC backgrounder, JURIST news archive]. Karadzic was indicted earlier this year and is currently challenging criminal charges in the ICTY in reliance on an alleged immunity deal with the US.

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